3 Ways to Embrace Uncertainty in Business

Businesswoman leading a presentation on a meeting

Think about the last time you were introduced to a new idea that did not align with your view of the world or belief system. Think about a time when a change was thrust upon you for which you did not have precedent. How did you respond? Did you think, “I’ve never thought to do it that way!” or “Bring it on!”?

If you are like most people, embracing new thoughts, ideas and perspectives is terrifying, as it calls into question whether your existing belief and value system is the right one. If you’re like most people, being asked to do something in a different way leads to the attitude of, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The reality is that each of these responses is both perfectly normal and perfectly flawed.

It should be noted that most people resist change as a way to regain control for fear of the unknown. For example, employees may resist the implementation of new technology because they fear it will render their role obsolete thereby resulting in job loss. This is counterintuitive and flawed thinking, as it is the resistance itself that is more likely to lead to job loss than adapting to or adopting the change. There is a better way to navigate the uncertainty change brings. Here are three ways to embrace uncertainty in business by thinking differently in order to provide you a measure of control in the midst of change.

1: Shift Your Mental Paradigm

A paradigm is a framework containing basic assumptions or ways of thinking. By extension, a mental paradigm serves as a framework to help a person organize information into a consistent pattern. When considering this, it is important to acknowledge the type of framework you have created for yourself. For instance, if you tend to view the world as inherently positive, you will likely be open to new experiences that support and build upon your existing worldview. By contrast, if you view the world through a pessimistic, skeptical lens, you may be leery of new experiences and resist those things that either do not fit your existing mental paradigm.

In most cases, this type of mental paradigm is born out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown or fear of not being good enough are all very real emotions. You have to acknowledge and appreciate what is causing these fears before you can reconcile them. Emotions should never be minimized, but they should not be overblown to the point of stagnation. This is especially true if you feel out of control when change approaches. If you’re like most people, you prefer to participate in a change rather than having it imposed on you, but fears may persist. You must accept that any time you experience fear and resist what you can learn from it you limit your potential.

How Does This Help Me Embrace Uncertainty in Business?

Shifting your mental paradigm away from fear and focusing on opportunity serves as a credible starting point. People fear what they do not know and they hate what they are afraid of. It is in this mental space where you have a choice. Are you willing to persist with living in fear thereby limiting your ability to contribute to your organization? Or, are you willing to face your fears in order to put them to rest for good?

If your answer to the last question is yes, you have taken a very important first step. You have just shifted from a self-defeating mental paradigm to a self-fulfilling one. This will allow you to try to predict the many unknowns and unintended consequences any change brings. This will allow you to view a change in a work process or an implementation of a disruptive technology or a change in management as an opportunity to enhance your learning and skill set. It is here that you add value to your organization rather than detract from it.

2: Adopt a Growth Mindset

A common misconception as people mature is that it becomes more difficult to learn new things. A person with this mindset believes that their talents, intelligence and skillsets are fixed or unchangeable. This presumes that a person has only a limited capacity to enhance these attributes, which is nothing short of flawed cognitive processes. The reality is that each and every person possesses the ability to get better and do more.

Having a growth mindset allows you to expand possibilities since it does not box you into something simply being this or that. In fact, very few things in life are entirely this or entirely that, especially when it comes to people. You are a strong, smart, talented individual that was hired to perform a job to help your organization succeed.

How Does This Help Me Embrace Uncertainty in Business?

First and foremost, adopting a growth mindset allows you to acknowledge that when your organization goes through a period of uncertainty, the change is never intended to make things worse. No decision-maker at any level in any organization would remain employed if their decisions intentionally hurt the business. Once you embrace the fact that change is designed to make things better, you open yourself to expanding your knowledge, capacity and potential.

Change is constant and it brings uncertainty. With this change and uncertainty, you have a choice. It is in this choice that you can realize that people do not grow when situations are comfortable. People grow and improve when facing and overcoming adversity. In business, it is only when you face challenges, including uncertainty, that you give yourself a shot at having more success, not less.

3: Focus on What Really Matters

What really matters to you the most about your career? Think about that for a moment. Money? Power? Reputation? Now, answer these follow up questions: What if you lost it all? How would it make you feel? Would your priorities shift?

An interesting technique used to help people focus on what really matters is called negative visualization, which is a way of imagining losing things that matter to you. Why would anyone want to focus on losing things rather than focusing on what can be gained? The answer boils down to appreciating what you have. Practicing negative realization allows you to ground yourself in all of the good that surrounds you. It allows you to not take things for granted.

How Does This Help Me Embrace Uncertainty in Business?

It can be sobering to consider how losing everything would affect your career. It can be incredibly helpful when navigating through periods of uncertainty. For example, let’s say you are resisting change around the implementation of a new work process. Your manager is becoming increasingly frustrated by your resistance and your relationship is tenuous, at best.

In the moment, you are resisting primarily because you believe the new process will require skills you do not possess, thus exposing your weaknesses, which could lead to your manager terminating your employment. This is an all too common thought process and your fear about losing your job is leading you, ironically, into a negative feedback loop where you will achieve what you fear most.

What if, however, you began practicing negative visualization and began to think about actually losing your job? Once you realize that the pain associated with losing your job is greater than the pain of adapting to the change, you can appreciate all of the benefits being employed brings. Negative visualization shifts your thinking away from what you do not want toward what really matters most.


It has been said that “success begets success.” This idea creates a positive feedback loop whereby you start to realize that, in business and in life, change and uncertainty are opportunities upon which to capitalize. In order to capitalize on every opportunity in business and in life, a shift in how you think about change and uncertainty is necessary.

Embrace the idea that it is only through successfully managing change and navigating uncertainty that you win. You will not win all of the time, but you will more often than not and both you and your organization will be better for it.

You can start preparing for your career by earning a degree at Grand Canyon University. The Colangelo College of Business offers a wide variety of business degree programs. Click on Request More Information at the top of your screen to begin your academic journey today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.